The Pits – Part II

January 3, 2013

Peggy hosted the election party at her father’s club. She was an old flame of mine who, even now, still lets me cuddle me her from time to time as long as I say, “I fucked up. You’re the one I should have married.” If I ever have a daughter I’m going to take her to Peggy’s house every once and a while so Peggy can rub off on her—teach her clarinet, show her where her arms should go when she’s sitting down, teach her how to talk. That sort of stuff. The stuff Marni is bad at.

“O-bam-a! O-bam-a!”

We were in the parlor, chanting as he won Ohio, and then Florida, and then California, or whatever the order was.

Peggy was smoking near the window. She would shout, “Ba-rack!” in between our “O-bam-a!”s, and each time she said “Barack!” I looked over at her, smiling. It became a game. “Barack!” Look at Peggy and smile. “Barack!” Look at Peggy and smile. After a few of these, she waved me over to the window and I obliged.

“Woof woof,” she said. I said, “Meow.” That’s how we talked when we dated.

“Puppy wants to cuddle.”

“Not when wifey cat is still sober. Give me an hour and meet me in the kitchen.”

“Woof. Roger that.”

“Meow. I love you.”

The thing about Peggy is, I didn’t marry her for only one reason: she’s in a wheelchair. It’s as simple as that. She’s charming, gorgeous, hilarious, smart, a good cook, has medium-small breasts that will never drop, and doesn’t need to work because her father gives her seven grand a month. She was born with a nasty spinal thing that got worse after we started dating and, boom, one day she needed to be a wheelchair, and a week after that we were at dinner and she said, “I know you want to leave me.”

I said, “Meow, you’re right.”

“Woof.”

“Bye bye puppy.”

It was quick.

At the time I was thinking, life can be shitty enough without a wife in a wheelchair. Why make it shittier by choosing to push around a woman—albeit a smart, pretty one—your entire life. How could I be with a handicapped wife? I like to dance and do all sorts of sex stuff that requires both partners to have legs. I like walking on the beach, not pushing a person on the beach, and can even get those wide green plastic sand wheels on beach bikes attached to a wheelchair? I was certain.

It took a long time to admit it, but I was a damned fool when I was younger, and looking at her across the room that night, I confirmed what I’d been thinking for years: I made a huge mistake. Peggy in a chair is a better woman than able-bodied Marni, who runs half marathons sometimes and is a fast walker in general, like me. Don’t put functioning legs on a pedestal when choosing a partner. That’s what I’ve learned. Do put sex on a pedestal, though. Peggy was a sorcerer in the sack. I won’t go into details, but I will say this: you know how blind people often have exceptional hearing and strong taste buds because their working senses compensate for the non-working ones? Peggy had that, but with her arms and hands. She could grip and pull things tightly, and with a delicate precision. Marni’s hands are as strong as Peggy’s feeble feet. If it were the year 3000, and Science’s abilities were limitless, I would knock my wife unconscious, take her and Peggy to a black-market surgeon and have him remove Marni’s legs and graft them onto Peggy, and then I’d have him remove Peggy’s lame legs and graft them onto Marni. Then I would run away with Peggy. Maybe to Indianapolis, where the women are homely, where I wouldn’t be as tempted to stray.

“Let’s go home,” the wife said soon after Obama was confirmed the winner.

“But there’s dessert. And Peggy’s going to do her Transformer impressions. We have to stay.”

“I’ve seen Peggy’s impressions. And I’ve had the club’s desserts, too. Waahhh, waahhh, I’m a thirty-three-year-old baby.”

She didn’t say that last part.

“We’re staying for dessert,” I said, grabbing her arm, perhaps too hard, and she said, “Lemme go!” loud enough to draw attention. Peggy looked over and grinned, and then slowly wheeled away. She loved too see us fighting. No doubt it blunted the sting of being alone forever and warmed her in that cold metal chair. Sure, she would drape blankets around the arms but sometimes a bare hand (oh those hands!) would graze the metal arm and she would get a chill.

“Mc-Cain! Mc-Cain!”

It was Peggy’s father, the rich asshole, shaking my hand. Peggy told me he had donated the maximum a person could give to McCain, and the Bushes too, all four times Bushes ran.

“Hello sir, sorry, but the good guy won I guess,” I said.

“Eat shit. My shit. My rich, black shit. Black from all the black truffles and black caviar I eat.”

“Hokay.”

“My daughter said she needs you in the kitchen. Something about a bottle of wine.”

I found Peggy in the kitchen with her head in her hands. Those hands! She was red-faced, crying a little, but not loudly, and she had spilled red wine on the blanket on her chair.

“Meow. Are you okay?”

“Nothing is okay. Do I look like a person who is okay?”

I asked her what’s wrong and she said she was sad for no reason. I didn’t believe her and asked again and she said no reason again. This went on for a while and, I’ll admit it, I was slowly moving closer to her face, like we use to do years ago. I was down on a knee, meowing while she woofed.

“Woof.”

“Meow.”

“Woof.”

“Meow, I miss you.”

“Woof, get a divorce, you coward.”

“Meow. Maybe.”

And that’s when it happened. The bad thing. The worst thing. The reason why Marni’s been onto me for years. Granted, she was onto me before we were married, they always are, but she never talked about it. Now any night she gets on her back or her hands and knees, it’s all, “Remember the election party in 2008? Remember what that gimp told you? Remember what you told her? I do. I’ll never forget that. Maybe. Who are you fucking? Tell me who you’re fucking? Tell me right now or I’m falling asleep.”

I wish I had the balls to say, “Inez and her sister Libby. They live near the pit.”

But instead I say, “Only you.”

Or: “Well, lately, nobody, because you’ve been so depressed” and of course she hates that and starts up with the bullshit again, “Who is she?! Tell me!” and I zone out and think of happier days, like the time I walked around inspecting the pit all day unknowingly with a few strands of Inez’s hair stuck in my butt. Maybe Libby’s hair, too. Who knows.

Before Libby met me she would cut her legs to relieve stress. There’s not much else to say about that, but I want it on the record because although I caused her much heartache in the end, I was helpful to her in the beginning and if I hadn’t taken her hand and started dancing with her that night at the church fundraiser (or was that how I met Inez? I met one of them at the church fundraiser and the other one I just woke up next to after a long night and neither of us knew where we met. For now, let’s say it was in fact Libby whom I met at the church) she would probably still be a cutter. Perhaps she would be dead. I hope someday she grows up and realizes that.

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